Thursday, August 30, 2012

Watchmen: Chapter VIII - the back-matter

The Back-Matter

As noted earlier, the back-matter for this chapter consists of the edition of the New Frontiersman Hector Godfrey and his assistant, Seymour, were putting together on page 10.  The main piece is an editorial on patriotism and masked adventurers by Godfrey, meant as a response to Doug Roth’s piece, “The Spirit of ‘77” in Nova Express, which we can assume denounced the recent spotlight on masked adventurers.  Moore, again, writes this piece in a distinct voice, one appropriate in its skewed, conservative ideals – even going so far as to defend the inception of the Ku Klux Klan as a righteous endeavor intended to avoid the “mongrelization” of society from a “culture far less morally advanced.” 

As with any extreme article of this nature – regardless of whichever end of the spectrum the writer may be coming from – this piece, “Honor is Like the Hawk: Sometimes It Must Go Hooded,” reveals its biases throughout its arguments, vindicating like-minded ideologues while inviting ridicule from those on the opposite arc of the pendulum.  There is little new that we can glean from this piece, with two exceptions.  First, we get yet another example of how this world differs from our real world with the mention of the United States’ “justified retaliatory bombing of Beirut in 1979,” an event that never took place.  Second, if we missed it in the background of Page 11, panel 3 in Chapter V, we get confirmation of Rorschach’s collection of the New Frontiersman, emphasizing his conservative principles.

More important, though it may not be obvious at this point, is the article on page 4 of this edition of the New Frontiersman.  “Missing Writer: Vanished Persons List Grows as Hunt Called Off,” deals with Max Shea, whose disappearance has been alluded to in the background of the main narrative a couple of times.  The argument of whether the New Frontiersman possesses any journalistic integrity cannot refute the fact that, in this instance, they are correct to put forth the conspiracy theory surrounding Shea’s disappearance – though tracing it back to Cuban interests is a dead end.  The Frontiersman cites the disappearance of other prominent creative figures around the same time of Shea’s disappearance as the main evidence for their supposition. 

Architect Norman Leith, painter Hira Manish, science fiction writer James Trafford March, and composer Linette Paley are all mentioned in the article, as well as a large number of people from the scientific community, including eugenics specialist Dr. Whittaker Furnesse.  Ms. Manish we have already seen, as she and Shea were introduced on page 11 of this chapter.  From their conversation, we can surmise they believe themselves part of a motion picture company working secretly on a new film and, judging from Manish’s drawing, it would take little effort to conclude that Leith was integral in the crafting of the beast under the tarp.  Likewise, having a second sci-fi writer, a composer, and a number of “semi-skilled menial workers” from the scientific community along with Dr. Furnesse – as a possible consultant – would make sense within this context of a movie production.

The most tantalizing bit of information, described as most likely unconnected, is the disappearance of a corpse’s head in the same week that Max Shea went missing.  The cadaverous head of Robert Deschaines, a noted psychic and clairvoyant, is indeed connected with the secret activities on this island.  The reason behind its disappearance, and those of the other notables mentioned above, will all be made clear with the final chapter of Watchmen.

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